By Michael John Sanchez

Many famous fiddlers have influenced the history of fiddle playing throughout many generations. All these fiddlers have mastered their skills in music and in playing the fiddle. They’re known not only for their musical abilities but also for their love of playing fiddle and sharing their passion with the world.

Charlie Daniels (1936–present)

Charlie Daniels is probably best known for his country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Charlie is not only a talented fiddle player but also a talented singer and guitarist. His unique style of music combines rock, country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel.

Charlie found success moving to Nashville in the 1960s, and his career began to explode. In 1962, he co-wrote the song “It Hurts Me,” which was recorded and released by Elvis Presley in 1964.

Charlie Daniels holds several title awards. He was named the BMI Icon at the BMI Country Awards in 2005. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.

Mark O’Connor (1961–present)

Mark O’Connor is not only a well-known fiddler performer but also a well-known music teacher and composer. At 13, Mark was named the youngest person to win the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.

Selling over 2 million CDs, Mark’s music has been a huge success. In 2001, he won a Grammy Award for his CD Appalachian Journey. Mark is also known for his fiddle and violin teaching method. He first introduced the O’Connor method in 2009, and it’s very popular with many violinists.

Bob Wills (1905–1975)

Bob Wills is best known for his influence on Western swing. At a young age, he began performing regularly, mainly for dances and radio stations.

Eventually, Bob started his own band called the Texas Playboys and recorded with several different publishers. He received many music awards throughout his life, including the honor of being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968.

Craig Duncan (1954–present)

Craig Duncan is both a classical- and country-trained musician. Craig is a talented fiddler who also plays viola, mandolin, rhythm and electric guitar, and several other instruments.

Craig has also written books and produced and arranged music. He has also been a featured instrumentalist on more than 60 albums.

A member of the North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Who’s Who in Music and Musicians, Craig’s music has been featured on many TV shows. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and programs on A&E, BET, PBS, History, and other TV channels.

Jay Ungar (1946–present)

In the 1960’s, Jay Ungar became a member of Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys, and shortly thereafter, the Putnam String County Band. Later in his career Jay was a member of Fiddle Fever and the David Bromberg Band. He continues to perform today doing duets with his wife, Molly Mason.

Jay is best known for his composition “Ashokan Farewell,” the Grammy Award-winning and Emmy Award-nominated theme song from the Ken Burns PBS documentary series The Civil War.

Justin Branum (1984–present)

Justin Branum plays the mandolin, guitar, cello, and bass, and sings. Justin is a composer and arranger of music and an adjunct professor of jazz violin at Webster University, where he received his master’s degree in jazz performance.

Some of Justin’s championship titles include the 2010 Grand Master Fiddler, 2010 Tennessee State Fiddler, 2010 Gone to Texas Fiddler, and the 2008 Young Adult Fiddle contest. He has played in many bands, including the swing band Swing DeVille, Colonel Ford, the Palominos, the Notable Haberdashers, and others around the St. Louis area.

Bobby Hicks (1933–present)

At 21, Bobby Hicks joined Jim Eanes’s band, but he left in the 1950s to join Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

After playing with the Blue Grass Boys for a while, Bobby decided to move on and became a member of Porter Wagoner’s band in 1959. Later, he became a member of several other bands around the country. Bobby Hicks was admitted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2002 and is a ten-time Grammy Award-winner whose music can be heard on over 50 CDs.

Alasdair Fraser (1955–present)

Alasdair Fraser is a Scottish fiddler player currently residing in northern California, where the San Francisco Examiner has called him “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling.” He has won numerous awards, has many TV credits, and has been the featured performer on many soundtracks.

Alasdair has performed more than 50 times on BBC Radio and is a two-time winner of the Scottish National Fiddle Championship.

In 1996, Alasdair’s album Dawn Dance received a National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD) award as best Celtic album of the year. Shortly after, Alasdair formed a band called Skyedance with the group members featured on Dawn Dance. He performs regularly with Natalie Haas, a cello player who graduated from the Julliard School of Music.

Natalie MacMaster (1972–present)

16, At Natalie MacMaster released her first album, Four on the Floor. Natalie has toured with artists Faith Hill, Carlos Santana, and Alison Krauss and has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma. She has received the “Artist of the Year” award from the East Coast Music Association several times and two Juno Awards for best instrumental album. The Canadian Country Music Association named her “Fiddler of the Year.”

Natalie has released 11 albums and performed thousands of shows. She enjoys playing as a soloist or with her band.

Martin Hayes (1961–present)

Martin Hayes is a well-known Irish fiddler who has won the All Ireland Fiddle Championship six times.

This talented fiddler has recorded five albums and has won an Irish National Entertainment Award and the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ 2000 award for Instrumentalist of the Year. Martin is a member of the Irish music band the Gloaming. He is also director of the Masters of Tradition festival held in Ireland every summer since 2003.